Nagaland Deputy Chief Minister Y. Patton has said that the signing of the Naga peace accord will take a few more days and that the Naga groups, including the NSCN(IM), will keep negotiating for a separate constitution and flag .
Mr. Patton, who also holding the Home portfolio, said Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio and he were seeking an appointment with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah to get clarity on their future role.
“The signing of the final Naga agreement will not take much time as major groups are on board. We want to know what will be the role of the present government after the accord is sealed. This is the issue we want to discuss with the Prime Minister and the Home Minister,” Mr. Patton, who reached Delhi on Friday, told The Hindu .
Mr. Rio is also in Delhi.
Mr. Patton said they would have to speak to the neighbouring States of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh amid the possible creation of autonomous councils in Naga-populated areas.
“Now they (Centre) will have to tell us the truth, they cannot hide from us any more. The Governor is having discussions with NNPGs and NSCN-IM; things are almost settled but I cannot say anything before it is finalised,” he said.
Manipur has been on edge as the peace agreement reaches its final stages.
Naga interlocutor R.N. Ravi, who is also Nagaland’s Governor, is holding final discussions with National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah) and Naga National Political Groups (NNPG) in the last leg of meetings in Delhi.
Lt. Gen. (retd) Shokin Chauhan, chairman of the ceasefire monitoring group, said the situation in Nagaland was peaceful and he was deputed to speak to the NSCN-IM to sort out any apprehension they might have.
“I spoke to them (NSCN-IM) on the Centre’s behalf. Most of them were worried about their safety, like what will happen to their cadres, weapons etc after the agreement is signed. I was available to listen to them,” Lt. Gen. (retd) Chauhan said. The armed group, which signed a ceasefire in 1997, has been operating from a camp in Hebron in Nagaland.
On October 31, the NSCN-IM released a statement that the negotiating team led by T. Muivah, has extended his gratitude to various civil society groups including the church and that “God has answered your (Naga people) prayers and they are now able to take positive steps towards a final solution.”
Earlier, the Centre had accused the NSCN-IM with which it signed a framework agreement to find a solution to the decades-old Naga issue in 2015 of delaying the talks. However, on Thursday, Mr. Ravi said the armed group was back on board and the final discussions were underway.
The NSCN-IM has been fighting for ‘Greater Nagaland’ or Nagalim — it wants to extend Nagaland’s borders by including Naga-dominated areas in neighbouring Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh — to unite 1.2 million Nagas. The Centre has however, ruled out any disintegration of the States of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur in order to merge the Naga-inhabited areas with the existing State of Nagaland.
The NNPG in a statement had claimed that Centre has “endorsed the usage of Naga emblem/flag specifically for cultural identity within Naga homeland.”